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Los Angeles: 7 Things Travelers Should Know Before Visiting

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The city of Los Angeles and its neighboring cities are famous for their industry, climate, landscapes, and culture.

And while many visitors come for the presumed glitz and glamour, the region has much more to offer than celebrity sightings, trendy restaurants, and iconic destinations.

Given its size, diversity, and beautiful location, there truly is something to discover in Los Angeles for every type of traveler.

The Los Angeles skyline with palm trees in the foreground.

But before you leave for Los Angeles, there are a few things to keep in mind. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Los Angeles, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette.
  • What are the main attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • Best times to visit

Ready? Here are the top 7 things to know before visiting Los Angeles:

October 19, 2018 - Los Angeles, California.  United States: Hollywood sign between palm trees from downtown Los Angeles

Did you know… The iconic Hollywood sign is what many people envision when they think of Los Angeles. Located in Griffith Park on top of Mount Lee, the sign can be seen from all over Los Angeles. Many movies and TV shows would have you believe that you can walk to the iconic Hollywood sign, however that is not the case. It is located in a restricted area and direct access is prohibited and monitored by officials 24/7. The closest you can get is behind and above which is accessible via hiking trails.

1) Los Angeles Affordability
















Rating: 2 out of 5.

Los Angeles is not the cheapest city. However, if you’re traveling on a tight budget, you can save by choosing free or cheap activities and choosing your dining options carefully.

Accommodation

  • Average price of hotels: The current average rate for a night in a 3-star hotel in Los Angeles is $220, while an average 4-star hotel is around $350.
  • 5-star luxury hotels: On average, a 5-star hotel costs around $600 per night. However, there are more expensive options if you’re looking to splurge. The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard has standard rooms for $1,700 per night and suites for $3,000 per night.
  • If you have a budget: Hostels in Los Angeles are not cheap. A bed in a dorm can cost anywhere from $40 to $60 a night, and a private room with a bathroom is around $100.

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The iconic Beverly Hills Hotel sign

Food

  • TO 3-course meal in a mid-range restaurant. for two it costs about $100.
  • For cheap food in a budget restaurant, expect to pay around $25.
  • TO beer costs between $8-$9 depending on where you are drinking, while a cappuccino it’s about $5.50.

Transport

  • The cheapest way to get around Los Angeles is by public transport. Tickets for the train or bus are $1.75 per trip.
  • Cab fares start at $4 plus an additional $2.70 per mile traveled. Uber and Lyft operate in Los Angeles and are often a cheaper option.
  • While not the most bike-friendly city, Los Angeles offers a shared bike program called Metro Bike Share. One-way rides are $1.75 for a half hour, or you can buy a 24-hour pass for $5, and all rides under 30 minutes are free.
  • Car rental they start at around $65 per day and are a good idea if you intend to explore areas outside of the center. Just keep in mind that traffic is terrible and parking can be difficult and expensive.
Traffic and pedestrians on Hollywood Boulevard at sunset in Los Angeles

2) Culture and etiquette in Los Angeles

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the top do’s and don’ts in Los Angeles.

  • DO NOT try to see everything: Los Angeles is such a big city with so many places to explore. It’s also very spread out, so trying to overpack on your trip is not a good idea. Choose accommodation in the area you most want to explore to reduce time spent in traffic.
  • LEAVE A TIP: Visitors should plan to tip at least 20% for restaurant service and $1-$2 per drink at the bar. Also keep cash on hand to tip taxi drivers, concierges, and delivery people.
  • DO NOT forget to check the dress code: Casual dress is usually fine at the beaches and pools, but many of the restaurants and clubs have dress codes in the evening, so be sure to check ahead.
Aerial view of downtown Los Angeles, California, United States

3) Main attractions in Los Angeles

LA is full of places to explore. Here are some of the best things to see and do while exploring Los Angeles and its surrounding areas:

  • Griffith Observatory – The Los Angeles Public Observatory is perched on Mount Hollywood and offers panoramic views of the city. Access to the observatory, its grounds, and public telescopes is free. There is also a planetarium with reasonably priced shows and various exhibits to explore.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art – The largest museum in the western US is home to more than 150,000 works of art and includes several must-see exhibits for art enthusiasts.
  • Venice Boardwalk – An incredibly eclectic waterfront walkway that attracts people from all walks of life. Walls of art, street musicians, drum circles and cafes keep visitors entertained in the beautiful seaside location.
Griffith Park Observatory overlooking downtown Los Angeles at night

4) How safe is it for tourists?
















Rating: 3 out of 5.

Los Angeles is generally safe for tourists. However, there are still a few things visitors should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Beware of thieves: Pickpockets are common in Los Angeles, so be sure to be extra careful with your valuables.
  • Choose your neighborhood wisely: LA has many fun and safe neighborhoods to explore, but it also has areas to be avoided (Skid Row, South Central, and Compton all have higher crime rates). When booking accommodation, make sure you stay in a safe area.
  • Take care of your drink: keep an eye on your drink at the bar, and never accept a drink from someone you don’t know. Take a taxi back to your hotel in the evening if you’ve had too much to drink or if you’re traveling alone.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies, as well as cover the costs of any travel mishaps during your trip to Los Angeles. For 5 great options, read more here.
Manhattan Beach in LA at sunset

5) Local food and drinks

Los Angeles is an incredible foodie city, thanks to its diverse population. Be adventurous and don’t let go without trying at least one of the following:

Food

  • fresh strawberry donuts This famous donut is worth seeking out at the well-known bakery The Donut Man and is only available when strawberries are in season (February to July).
  • french sauce – A French roll stuffed with roast beef or other roast meats, cheese, and dipped in the roast fat. Legend has it that this now-popular sandwich was (accidentally) invented at Philippe the Original in downtown Los Angeles.
  • Pink’s Hot Dogs – An iconic restaurant serving a variety of famous hot dogs since 1939
Pink's Hot Dog restaurant in Los Angeles

Drinks

  • sour beer – Los Angeles craft breweries are creating creative sour beers that contain fruits and herbs. Be sure to try some locally made sours from breweries like Beachwood Blendery and Highland Park Brewery.
  • Moscow mule – vodka, ginger beer and lime juice served in a copper mug, supposedly invented in Los Angeles
  • Coffee – Coffee culture is alive and well in Los Angeles, with coffee shops on almost every corner. Some popular spots include Bloom & Plume in historic Filipinotown and Cognoscenti Coffee in Culver City.

6) How is the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed test service, average internet speeds in Los Angeles for April 2023 were 102.06 mbps download and 13.39 mbps upload.

Tourists-in-Los-Angeles

7) Best time to visit

Los Angeles is a great destination year-round. The city is busiest during the summer months, when rain is rare and temperatures peak, making it a great time to explore the nearby beaches. The shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November are pleasant and less crowded. Visiting during the winter months is a great option if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, heat, and higher prices.

traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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